PropertyProf Blog

Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If You Buy the Twinkie Brand What Do You Get?

Slate contemplates what will become of the Twinkie after the Hostess bankruptcy:

Historic brands like Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Ho Hos will be sold at auction to the highest bidder. Will the buyers get the exclusive right to use the recipes for those products?

Not exactly. Confectioners rarely patent their recipes, because applying with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office means publishing the ingredients and methods. The legal protection lasts only 20 years, after which time anyone can profit from the creation. Manufacturers instead guard their recipes as trade secrets, a status that isn’t time-limited. The company forces employees to sign nondisclosure agreements and sues rival manufacturers that extract their methods and formulas from workers. The companies that eventually buy Hostess brands will gain access to those trade secrets and the right to enforce the secrecy agreements. If, however, someone cracks the Twinkie recipe and manufactures an identical product under a different name—the brand names are protected by trademark—there’s very little the new owner will be able to do.

Steve Clowney

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/property/2012/11/if-you-buy-the-twinkie-brand-what-do-you-get.html

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bfae553ef017ee5a76c57970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference If You Buy the Twinkie Brand What Do You Get?:

Comments

Post a comment